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MAKING WAVES: The Art of Cinematic Sound
MAKING WAVES: The Art of Cinematic Sound
An immersive film revealing the power of Sound to create Story in Cinema. With iconic directors & sound designers. A Project of Earth.
An immersive film revealing the power of Sound to create Story in Cinema. With iconic directors & sound designers. A Project of Earth. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
About this project
We attend the cinema to be entertained, to expand our world, and to be emotionally moved. We know and understand that cinema in a theater is a multi-sensory experience. But few of us recognize how much of the experience is created specifically by sound ... or why that is, or how that happens.
MAKING WAVES: The Art of Cinematic Sound is a feature-length documentary exploring the art, history, and aesthetics of sound in film, and by extension, sound on Earth.
ABOUT THE FILM AND THIS CAMPAIGN
MAKING WAVES: The Art of Cinematic Sound showcases the primal storytelling power of sound through the personal histories, experiences and expertise of sound pioneers who became award-winning artists in Sound Design. In our film, we interview premier Sound Designers like Walter Murch, Gary Rydstrom, and Ben Burtt (among others), and great Film Directors known for working so closely with their Sound Designers, like George Lucas, Robert Redford, Peter Weir, Christopher Nolan, Sofia Coppola, David Lynch, and Ang Lee (among others).
The film is part history, part explanation and a big part revelation. For example, the sound of Chewbacca in Star Wars is actually the sound of a bear cub being tempted with his favorite food.
We explore the incredible camaraderie between great Sound Designers and iconic Film Directors with whom they work (see "Great Collaborations" section, below). In 1979 - not that long ago - Francis Ford Coppola gave the first known credit for Sound Design to multi-Oscar winner Walter Murch, for his work in Apocalypse Now.
We are beyond grateful that so many uber-talented individuals were willing to meet with us and embrace our vision. The emergence of "the aural arts" in cinema has changed storytelling in film, and has had a huge impact on the emotions of many a moviegoer.
Since the world of cinema is often a microcosm for life, we hope to espouse a larger message with this film too, and that is - our overall human experience is so greatly shaped by what we hear.
We've been working on this film for years. Primary production is finally complete. This Kickstarter will allow us to edit, and otherwise complete a festival cut of the film, and we promise you a film you will appreciate, learn from, and enjoy. Most of all, we promise that you will never hear the world the same again.
Thank you for visiting, and for your consideration and support.
"Sound is actually 4D. It only exists in time." - Erik Aadahl
By virtue of its fiscal sponsorship, pledges made to this campaign are tax-deductible, to the amount and extent allowable by law. See section on "fiscal sponsorship" - very bottom of page.
"Silence was discovered in cinema ... when sound was found." - Robert Bresson
ABOUT SOUND DESIGN
Well-done sound is mission critical to the success of a film. Visuals might lay the groundwork for the film's emotional meaning, but sound gives a picture its emotional punch. The introduction of "Sound Design" as a title/credit in 1979 set the stage for sound design to be elevated from a technical craft to a creative and artistic profession.
In today's film world, a Sound Designer plans the overall sound track with the director and/or producer - mapping dialogue, music, effects, and motifs; AND creates sound effects and experimentation with sound; AND assigns the method of deployment of sound within the theatre space.
Our film will explore the history of sound in cinema, the creation and expanded role of the Sound Designer, and provide an in-depth look at the people and processes involved.
Sound transports you to a specific time and space." - Skip Lievsay
MORE ABOUT THE FILM
For many years, sound was cinema’s silent partner. The people who discovered it, shaped it, mixed and designed it, up until recently, were unsung heroes toiling behind the scenes. Even after advances in technology were incorporated into the film process, the venues lagged behind. The Godfather, which was expertly mixed on multiple tracks, was probably heard by the audience on the same crackly mono speakers installed for Gone With The Wind!
In our interviews, Sound Designers like Walter Murch, Ben Burtt, and Gary Rydstrom speak to that history. They reveal many of the techniques they’ve discovered for creating specific, often subconscious, always emotional reactions to story points they’ve been charged with using sound to create.
Although the history of film is finite, and the history of sound in film even more so, the nature of cinema allows our film to span the annals of time, from our deep past ... to our distant future.
The Jurassic was the middle period of the Mezosoic Era on Earth, aka The Age of Reptiles. Gary Rydstrom (7 time Oscar winning Sound Designer) needed to create sounds of dinosaurs for Jurassic Park. For the now-iconic roar of the T-Rex roar, Gary used the roar of a baby elephant, layered with other, lower-pitched animal sounds including a whale's blowhole. We interview him about it in our film.
And nothing speaks to the future better than when NASA dispatched the Voyager probes to explore the outer reaches of our solar system, and beyond. Ann Druyan was the Creative Director of the Voyager Interstellar Message Project. She and her team designed golden phonograph records that were affixed to both Voyager spacecrafts, which featured music and sounds of Earth (for alien civilizations that the crafts might encounter). The records have a projected shelf life of one billion years. Here is a 1-minute video excerpt of our interview with Ann Druyan that we call "Crickets":
A great many talented and influential individuals (sound designers, sound mixers, and film directors) were interviewed, and regaled us with informative insights and entertaining tales, among them are:
George Lucas gave Ben Burtt the artistic freedom to create a wholly new sound universe in Star Wars with characters (R2D2, Chewbaca, Darth Vadar’s breathing), the lightsaber, Tie-Fighters, and more. This helped usher in the new era of talented sound professionals forging amazing alliances with visionary directors who in their own way, became sound pioneers - like Robert Redford (A River Runs Through It), Peter Weir (Master and Commander, Witness), and John Lasseter (Toy Story and Toy Story 2). We hear and explore their thoughts in our film.
"Our ears are on, 24/7." - Anonymous
MORE MOVIE MAGIC
Sometimes the sound of a jet on the big screen is actually a recording of ... the sound of a jet. And sometimes the sounds of the ocean on the big screen are gleaned by recording ... the sounds of the ocean.
But it's not always so straightforward. In the original King Kong (1933), the sounds of Kong were lion and tiger roars merged and played backwards.
That sound of cracking bones? Could be lasagna-style pasta being broken.
And the sound of crunching or cracking ice? Possibly styrofoam breaking.
Do you know how they got the sound of the blaster fire in Star Wars? From Ben Burtt hitting a high-tension wire with a wrench.
Gary Rydstrom used the vacuum-like sound of dog food leaving the can for the sound of Terminator 2 walking through walls.
Erik Aadahl used his dog's whining sound in Transformers as the sound of Bumblebee.
"Sound can create a world of things that don't exist." - Ben Burtt
Few things evidence the collaborative process of filmmaking more than the relationship between director and sound designer. It is intensely collaborative. Here are a few of the finest collaborative pairs in cinema history:
SPIELBERG AND RYDSTROM
Director Steven Spielberg and Sound Designer Gary Rydstrom have enjoyed many collaborations, including Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, War Horse, and Ready Player One. Gary received Academy Awards for his work on Jurassic Park, and Saving Private Ryan.
COPPOLA AND MURCH
Director Francis Ford Coppola and Sound Designer Walter Murch collaborated on Apocalypse Now, which won Murch an Academy Award for Best Sound in 1980. They also worked together on The Conversation and The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, and The Godfather: Part III.
LYNCH AND SPLET
Director David Lynch and Sound Designer Alan Splet collaborated on The Elephant Man. They also worked together on Eraserhead and Blue Velvet.
LUCAS AND BURTT
Director George Lucas and Sound Designer Ben Burtt collaborated on the entire Star Wars saga. Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope won Burtt the Academy Award for Best Sound in 1978. That same year, the Academy awarded Ben a Special Achievement Oscar for his sound effects work, including his creation of the alien, creature and robot voices.
MEET THE TEAM
Midge Costin - Director/Producer
Midge is the Kay Rose Professor in the Art of Sound Editing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is the first person to hold this endowed chair (given by George Lucas in 2005). For over 25 years she has been a feature film sound editor. She is a past board member of the Motion Picture Sound Editors, a lifelong member of the Editors Guild, and an avid sailor and kayaker.
Bobette Buster - Writer/Producer
Bobette is a screenwriter, script consultant, and educator. She lectures internationally cinema storytelling, and sound and story, and regularly teaches Hollywood decision makers and creatives at Pixar, Disney, and others. Formerly an Adjunct Professor at USC's Peter Stark Producing Program. Bobette is the author of Do Story: How to Tell Your Story So the World Listens.
Karen Johnson - Producer
Karen has produced fiction and nonfiction film, television, and web media. She has taken particular interest in subjects that feature compelling women characters or that have women writers and/or directors. Her producer credits include director Amanda Micheli’s award-winning documentary about Hollywood stuntwomen Double Dare. Karen is also an attorney.
Says Midge: "Sound has changed my life and now I want this film to change yours. I went to film school because I love telling stories. So here is a story, and when you read this, you will understand why this film resonates in importance for me.
In film school, all the classes described filmmaking as “visual storytelling.” Working on sound gave me panic attacks, because it seemed so technical - and back then, it was something you just added at the end. I came out of school wanting to be a picture editor but when I needed money to finish my thesis film I “lowered myself” and took a sound editing job. That was the beginning of "it". I started to feel the power that sound had immediately. My first studio job was the Tom Cruise / Nicole Kidman race car movie Days of Thunder. I was responsible for the bad guy’s engine in the race scenes. It was a heady time, post-Star Wars & Apocalypse Now, where we were using a new surround sound format (5.1) and designing layers of sound because the audience began to listen with the wonders of THX and Dolby technology. Editing and designing sound in film had opened my ears to the world.
Fast forward, after many years of working in Hollywood with the finest crews, I came back to my first love – teaching. Bobette Buster was a faculty colleague of mine at USC School of Cinematic Arts. While lecturing on sound and story at Pixar, she met seven-time Academy Award winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom. When she asked him to be a consultant on a documentary about sound, Gary recommended that she and I work together. Then Bobette suggested her friend and former student, Karen Johnson, to join us as a producing partner. Karen had produced one of my favorite documentaries, Double Dare, about stunt women. And our team was born!
Bobette, Karen and I – along with our ace editing team and production crew - are passionate about telling the world how sound is 50% of any story. We’re committed to introducing you to the iconic directors and creative sound artists who do this work behind the scenes, whose names and titles come up in the credits after you’ve left the theater or turned off your screen. We want to pull back the curtain so you can see (and hear) the magic and the wonder.
Welcome to the world of sound – you won’t come out quite the same way you went in. Join us to make this film possible!"
ABOUT THE REWARDS
CAN YOU MIX AND MATCH? Yes, you can. If there are Rewards you'd like in a certain combination or quantity that are not offered that way, no problem. Send a message by clicking the round photo at the top left of the page, and then "CONTACT ME". Glad to work it out.
DELIVERY DATES: The Rewards deliveries are approximate, and reflect a delivery date which reflects the outside date for the film's completion; we are likely to fulfill many of the Rewards a bit earlier.
MAKING YOUR "CHOICES": All "options" involved in any Reward tier (t-shirt size, for example) will be made AFTER the campaign; Kickstarter has a survey form for these selections, which works quite well.
THE RING TONES: If you select ANY Reward (of $12 or more), you receive a unique custom ring-tone - created by Oscar winning Sound Designers; you choose between these two: HUBBLE CALLS, by Ben Burtt - an imagining by the sound designer (who created the sounds of R2D2, the lightsaber, WALL-E and more): what will it sound like when Hubble finally calls, after all this time, from outer space? - or - THE TORRESIAN RAVEN by Mark Mangini (Mad Max Fury Road) - a bird species indigenous to Australia with a distinct signature call that ends in a moan, used in the main title of Mad Max Fury Road and as the birds of prey in the blue "bog" sequence. Both of these are so awesome, that whichever one you pick, every time your phone rings, the person you are with will look at you in amazement, and ask "what the heck was that"? Available at EVERY level, beginning at $12.
WAVE-FORM JEWELRY: Jewelry in the shape of sound waves. Sakurako Shimizu is a world-renowned Japanese artist whose "sound wave" designs reside in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC. We commissioned three original Limited Edition brooches, which are entitled Laugh!, Love, and Why Not? They are available in white silver or oxidized silver, choices made after the campaign. These are spectacular. At the $600 level.
"CREED" LIMITED EDITION RED WHITE AND BLUE SOUNDTRACK ON VINYL, SIGNED by Director Ryan Coogler AND his sound designer Ludwig Goransson. Goransson compiled the soundtrack - no dialogue, all music with 4 previously unreleased bonus tracks. A true Composer's Cut, and having both signatures - quite rare.
LIGHTSABER, SIGNED BY BEN BURTT - a true one-of-a-kind Reward for one lucky Star Wars fan - from the Official Star Wars Collection, a blue lightsaber, signed by Oscar-winning Sound Designer Ben Burtt (signed on the box, above). Available at $1000.
DARTH VADER HELMET, SIGNED BY BEN BURTT - a one-of-a-kind Reward; you put on the helmet, speak, and people will respect you. It's out of fear, but so what? Fits kids and adults. You can see Ben's signature on the upper left of the box.
STORMTROOPER HELMET, SIGNED BY BEN BURTT - a one-of-a-kind Reward; when you put on the helmet and speak, your voice changes - you will follow orders from your mom, I mean the Emperor. You can see Ben's signature on the helmet itself.
BOBA FETT HELMET: detailed, rare, signed by Ben Burtt. With sound effects, phrases, and a light-up antenna, adjustable straps - for kids or adults. Sounds and phrases even change based on the position of the antenna. $720.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON - a pictorial moviebook of Ang Lee's brilliant love story / martial arts action drama set against the landscapes of ancient China, along with a 4K (Ultra HD) DVD of the film, both items signed by Ang Lee.
FROM TOY STORY 3 - LIMITED EDITION ULTIMATE BUZZ LIGHTYEAR PROGRAMMABLE ROBOT - SIGNED by Gary Rydstrom, with 100 sayings, original voice, from Disney and Pixar - rare.
MORE ON THE COSMOS COLLECTION: This truly timeless, one-of-a-kind Reward, available at $1600, is hand-signed by Ann Druyan, Creative Director of NASA's Voyager Interstellar Message Project (also married to Carl Sagan for 15 years).
THE CINEMA OF GEORGE LUCAS - SIGNED BY GEORGE LUCAS - a stunning coffee table book, chronicling George Lucas' filmmaking career up to and including Revenge of the Sith. The book is also notable for including the shooting schedules for A New Hope, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (as well as THX 1138, American Graffiti and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles). Signed by the maestro. Special.
PRIVATE VIP SCREENING: A true VIP Reward. You and either 9 or 19 of your friends will be invited to a special screening of the film. The SoCal location which we will provide is special, too special to even mention. There will be refreshments, special guests on hand for a post-film Q and A, and ... you and your guests will be THE first to see the Festival Cut of the film. Available for $5000 for 10 people, or $9000 for 20; all included, even lunch. You just have to get there.
MORE ON THE LIME GREEN SET: This is a 10 disc DVD set containing work personally selected by writer, director and artist David Lynch. Includes a Mystery disc of content taken from Lynch's own personal archives and available only here. Also includes remastered versions of Eraserhead plus soundtrack, the Short Films of David Lynch, the Elephant Man with extra's, Wild at Heart w deleted scenes, Blue Velvet, a 40-page Collector's book, and more. This is a one of a kind Reward; the box is hand-signed by David Lynch. Available at $750.
MORE ON THE SOUNDS OF STAR WARS: NY Times best-selling author J. W. Rinzler reveals the illuminating history of the sounds that make the Star Wars universe so believable, as recounted by their creator, legendary sound designer Ben Burtt. An attached sound module with an exterior speaker and headphone jack lets you listen to more than 250 unique sound effects, and more than 300 photographs illustrate the epic's many memorable scenes. Hand-signed by Ben Burtt. Available at $300.
THE REWARD YOU CANNOT REFUSE: For the Godfather fan in all of us, the Coppola Restoration of the Godfather films - a digitally restored box set (Blu-Ray) that includes hi-def extra's. The film predates the existence of a Sound Designer credit. However the sound design team, led by Walter Murch, also included Mark Berger and Richard Beggs. Walter signs one box, and Mark and Richard the other. Pretty special, one-of-a-kind, and priced at only $185
POSTERS: If you select this Reward ($70 level), you get a choice of two posters: the SOUND QUOTE poster (see below), artfully designed, containing some of the more iconic quotes about sound by legends in the field; or - the WALTER MURCH poster (also see below), featuring our favorite Sound quote ever by the Award-winning master (the Godfather films, Apocalypse Now, and more).
TIMELINE, BUDGET, & USE OF PROCEEDS
TIMELINE: Based on a successful Kickstarter that concludes and settles in early October, we expect to edit and complete a "festival cut" by February, 2018. After key submissions, we complete post-production, and expect a final cut of the film in July, 2018. Accordingly, we've projected fulfilling Rewards in August, 2018 (although it is expected that many of the Rewards will be fulfilled earlier).
BUDGET: 50% of the TOTAL budget to make this film was raised prior to this Kickstarter. We project that if successful, this Kickstarter will provide a big chunk of what remains, and the balance will come from investment contingent on this Kickstarter. The film has received a California Humanities Grant.
USE OF PROCEEDS: The pie chart below reflects the Use of Proceeds from funds raised through this Kickstarter only.
We came to Kickstarter for three reasons: Independence, Vision, and Collaboration.
INDEPENDENCE - we are featuring many high profile individuals in this film, and we feel it is necessary to be independent and tell the story independently without serving any master.
MISSION OR VISION - we have a specific vision for this film, borne from years of experience in filmmaking and in teaching. We want to stay true to that vision.
COLLABORATION - making a film is a collaborative effort, and we've shown you how directors and sound designers collaborate as well. What better place for us than Kickstarter, where collaboration is a way of life.
If you've got questions, we've got answers. We are pleased to engage and respond. At the top of the page on the left there is a small round photo - click that, then click CONTACT ME to send a message.
Top to bottom: Walter at mixboard "Photo courtesy of Walter Murch"; Ben in Bear pen "Photo courtesy of Ben Burtt"; Team photo with George Lucas "Photo by Sabrina K. Wong"; Gary with plow "Photo courtesy Gary Rydstrom"; Krysten Mate "Photo by Sandra Chandler"; Walter slide "Photos by Sabrina K. Wong" Gary slide "Photos by Sabrina K. Wong"; Ben slide "Photo by Sandra Chandler"; Ann Druyan "Photo by Christopher Winterbauer"; Randy Thom "Photo by Sabrina K. Wong"; Ryan Coogler "Photo by Sandra Chandler"; Sofia Coppola "Photo by Sandra Chandler"; George Lucas “Photo by Sabrina K. Wong. Kenny Baker "Photo courtesy of Ben Burtt"; photo of Lora Hirschberg and Anna Behlmer in More About the Film: portraits by Benjamin Ealovega; Ben recording plane "Photo courtesy of Ben Burtt"; Bernie "Photo by Sandra Chandler"; food and ice Foley "photos by Sandra Chandler"; Gary with Animal Talk "Photo courtesy of Gary Rydstrom"; Erik with dog "Photo courtesy of Erik Aadahl"; Walter Murch w Francis Ford Coppola "Photo by Franco Origlia"; David Lynch "Courtesy of David Lynch"; photo of Alan Splet "Courtesy of Ann Kroeber". photos of Bobette Buster from Meet the Team, L to R: Matia Karrell, Skinner Myers, and Steve Turner.
Risks and challenges
Making a full length feature film, documentary or otherwise, is a challenge for anyone, even for a major studio. It is a substantial endeavor, with many moving parts. Independent film producers have to especially be able to roll with the punches. We have done our best to minimize risk and maximize use of funds and (as you can see by the individuals we've profiled), we've done this without the slightest compromise to the message, the story, and the quality. It's taken several years to get it to this point, and we've done what we had to do - raised and/or borrowed money, and financed some of it to date from limited personal funds, thus reducing what is needed for this campaign.
The funds from KS will allow us to complete the editing, music licensing, clips licensing, color correcting, and all those other myriad of post-production elements that can really make a film special. We have even been securing other arrangements predicated partly on the success of this campaign. Our scope of work, time frames, and budgets are reasonable. This is a team that has a passion for filmmaking and for sound design in particular, and a determination to match its passion.
In summary, we say with total confidence - when the Kickstarter campaign succeeds, the film will be made; and all rewards will be delivered fully and on a timely basis.
Thanks for helping us bring you a documentary that will not only open your ears to movie sound, but may even help you to hear the world in a whole new way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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